The wounds of war meet a tranquil river in a documentary nominated for a regional Emmy that features the filmmaking and music of a Georgia Regents University professor.
Matthew Buzzell, an assistant professor of communications, was a consulting producer for Not Yet Begun to Fight, a feature-length film that explores fly-fishing as a treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder in military veterans.
Buzzell helped edit the film, which was produced and directed by friend Sabrina Lee, from Montana, where the film follows veterans recovering from war.
Buzzell, a co-chairman of the Cinema Series at GRU, also composed the score for the film, which has been nominated for best Topical Documentary by the Northwest Chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. It also received nominations for Direction/Post-production and Editing.
In the documentary, retired Col. Eric Hastings, a Vietnam veteran, helps a new generation of wounded veterans find healing the same way he did: fly-fishing on a river and releasing the fish back to freedom.
Though Buzzell was not at the Montana ranch during filming, the footage he watched over and over during editing echoes the river’s healing power, he said.
“It’s a film that shines a light on very human stories,” he said. “It’s about sacrifice and it’s about redemption.”
The documentary premiered on Veterans Day on PBS. The film, highly acclaimed by Roger Ebert, was shown at film festivals across the nation, including in Atlanta, where Buzzell met some of the veterans for the first time.
In addition to PTSD, some veterans in the film are leg amputees and have other war injuries.
“They all have very different wounds. Some you can see and some you cannot,” Buzzell said.
The Northwest Regional Emmy Awards banquet will be held at 7 p.m. tonight in Seattle. Buzzell will not attend, but other filmmakers from the project – who Buzzell credits for earning the documentary its nominations – will attend the show.